Unresolved: MLK's assassination & Canada's Role

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In November 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his Massey Lectures, titled "Conscience for Change". The Massey Lectures are an annual week long broadcast series in which a noted scholar gives a series of lectures on political, cultural or philosophical topics.

*Listen in browser

On April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, King was struck by a single .30 -06 bullet fired from a Remington Model 760 rifle. Witnesses saw a man, later identified as James Earl Ray, fleeing from a rooming house across the street from the Lorraine Motel. He fled in a 1966 Ford Mustang and headed to Detroit where he crossed the border into Windsor, Ontario and took a train to Union Station in Toronto.

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After leaving Union Station, Ray walked for almost an hour until he found room in a boarding house located at 102 Ossington St. [now a jewellery store].


To not arouse suspicion from the landlady, Ray rented a second room, around the corner from the boarding house, where he spent 12 hours every day. This house was located at 955 Dundas St. West.

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After acquiring a false birth certificate and Canadian passport, Ray bought a ticket to London, England on April 16, 1968. He later boarded a flight to London on May 6, 1968.

The plan was to fly to Europe and finally Africa, where he felt he could earn a living as a mercenary.
— Toronto Star

*Listen in browser.


On June 8, 1968 Ray was arrested at Heathrow Airport attempting to fly to Belgium. He confessed on March 10, 1969.

Case resolved

James Earl Ray recanted his confession 3 days later and insisted he plead guilty to the murder under duress. In 1997, The King family began an investigation into the trial, urging for Ray to be granted a retrial. He died in prison in April 1998 from kidney and liver failure. In 1999, the King family filed and won a civil case in the wrongful death of Martin Luther King Jr. Many, including The King family and civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson who was with Martin Luther King at the Lorraine motel, believe James Earl Ray was a pawn in a larger conspiracy. Further investigations into MLK's assassination have since gone dormant.


The fact is there were saboteurs to disrupt the march. [And] within our own organization, we found a very key person who was on the government payroll ... I will never believe that James Earl Ray had the motive, the money and the mobility to have done it himself. Our government was very involved in setting the stage for and I think the escape route for James Earl Ray.
— Reverend Jesse Jackson [Baptist Minister, Civil Rights Activist, Politician, Friend to Martin Luther King Jr.]
There is no way a ten-cent white boy could develop a plan to kill a million-dollar black man.
— James Bevel [Minister, Civil Rights Activist, Friend to Martin Luther King Jr.]

Stay Woke



Words by Idris Lawal, Edits by Nadine Lamanna, Pictures by Ryan Pimenta.

Sources: CBCToronto StarMyseumTorontoWikipedia.

Canadian Music Week 2017 Recap - The State of Social Media (for Artists, Musicians & Brands)

After attending Canadian Music Week as a student-delegate in 2016, I was determined to return this year and hopefully every year after. I moved to Toronto from Ottawa in October 2016 and as fate would have it, was offered a chance to volunteer as part of the Social Media team for this year’s conference.

Not surprisingly, this year’s Canadian Music Week conference featured a lot of Social Media talk - a bi-product of the increasingly digital and social age we live in. Social Media provides artists, musicians and brands with the means to directly interact with their audience and the data with which to measure results and make decisions. The name of this recap blog was actually borrowed from one of the panelists at this year’s conference.

Major Keys Alert 🔑


Ken Rutkowski Knows Who You Oughta Know

Ken Rutkowski, CEO - Business Rockstars

We live in a sharing economy. The difference between the old school and the new: in Kindergarten, the old school had desks and chairs; the new school have a big desk with chairs around it. Think community.

Three Questions You should Ask Yourself (according to Elon Musk):

What is your enemy?

What Makes You, You?

What is Your Superpower?


“Do What You Can’t” 🔑

BONUS KEY: “You learn in kindergarten everything you need to learn about running a business” - Zoe Share, CEO at Schmooz Media


Quit Bitchin’ and Do Something

(The Only Person Holding You Back From Sharing Your Music With The World Is You!)

Rick Barker, Social Media Guru/Mentor; Artist Manager


Along with his current role as Social Media Consultant to Scott Borchetta - President of Big Machine Label Group (Taylor Swift) and former role as Taylor Swift’s manager, Rick also mentors independent artists on how to navigate the music industry and make the most of Social Media. Check out Rick’s program on his website.



PANEL - Creating an Online Video Presence

Moderated by Ted Cohen, Managing Partner at Tag Strategic. Featuring Andrew Lindsay - Manager, Music label Partnerships at Google Canada; Dana Shayegan - VP Music at Studio71; Gray Gannaway - Founder at Quarterlab; Matt Connell - Engineer and Producer.

“you can make 36 pieces of (video) content from a 12 song album” 🔑


PANEL - Brand Partnerships That Sing: A roadmap to creating authentic music experiences.

Moderated by Matthew Yazge, Head of Brand Sponsorship - Nielsen Music, US. Featuring Andres Mendoza, Director of Marketing & Brand Partnerships - CARAS/The Juno Awards; Brian Flaman, Sr. Account Manager - Mosaic; Kevin Goodman, CEO - Front Row Centre Inc.; Nick Farkas, VP of Concerts and Events - Evenko.

Brand Partnerships at events are facing increasing scrutiny to be more authentic and need-based. An example of needs-based advertising in this year’s Juno awards was The Juno Train.

The Juno Train: For this year’s Juno Awards hosted in Ottawa, The Juno organization partnered with Virgin Mobile and Via Rail Canada to transport nominees, media, music fans, sponsors and music executives from Montreal and Toronto to Ottawa two days before the event. The train ride featured snacks, drinks, wifi and most importantly performances by select artists.

How does this solve a need? People need to get to the event and this provides them with a means to do so while also getting brand partners involved.

BONUS KEY: Check out Ottawa Citizen's coverage of the juno train (with videos) here.


PANEL: The Future Of Artist Management

Moderated by Didier Zareth, Founder of The DZ Factory. Featuring Annabella Coldrick, CEO - MMF UK; Joe D’Ambrosio - Founder - Joe D’Ambrosio Management Inc.; Ron Stone, President - Gold Mountain Entertainment; Stuart Ross, Red Light Management; Emily White, Partner - Whitesmith Entertainment Inc.

"Build businesses around the artist instead of trying to fit the artist into the business" 🔑

- Emily White, CEO of Whitesmith Entertainment


I reached out to Emily to clarify the statement for the purpose of this blog:

Build businesses around the artist instead of trying to fit the artist into a business. I was grateful to be schooled under Mike Luba at Madison House. Whether you are into jambands or not, that is a scene that does this the best. We create a business and strategies around the artist and take care of the fans a very close second. This is how countless artists in the jam scene operate, as well as festivals with roots in that world as well, such as Bonnaroo. I’ve spoken with metal acts, indie, classical, country and beyond who have all had success with this ethos and mindset. To me it is the ultimate way to go in art, music, and even sports!

BONUS KEY: Emily White on why and how she gets 9 HOURS of sleep a day: https://mymorningroutine.com/emily-white/


Key Break 🔑

This year’s Global Creators Summit focused on the plight of the Indigenous people of Canada as told by Indigenous artists. I won’t sum up what was said. I will instead let two artists, who performed at points during the summit do so as I think that through their art, they can tell the story of the Indigenous people way better than I would.

Tanya Tagaq - Experimental Vocalist and Artists

Tanya Tagaq’s music isn’t like anything you’ve heard before. Unnerving and exquisite, Tagaq’s unique vocal expression may be rooted in Inuit throat singing but her music has as much to do with electronica, industrial and metal influences as it does with traditional culture.


Iskwe (pronounced iss-kway)

Named one of the ‘Top 10 Artists to Watch’ by CBC Music, IsKwé (which means ‘woman’ in her native language) is fostering an unmistakable sound that weaves together her Irish and Cree/Dené roots with poignant politically charged lyrics, dark soulful R&B rhythms, electronic flourishes, and trip hop breakbeats.


“There’s an active community of people interested in how music can be used as a tool for social change” 🔑

- Arif Virani, member of parliament for Parkdale High


Integrated Campaign Marketing

Christopher Pitcher, CEO and Kris Kish, CCO - Empact Labs

Christopher and Kris took a minute to introduce themselves and what they do at Empact Labs. Here’s what happened around the world in that one minute:

So how does your brand stand a chance? An integrated marketing campaign!

An integrated campaign takes a holistic view of the customer journey:

Ignorance ➭ Awareness ➭ Purchase ➭ Satisfaction ➭ Loyalty

“The #1 mistake is jumping into the river before you have mapped out your route” 🔑

How Do We Stand Out?

Have A Big Idea (What’s Your Purple Cow?)

Tie it To Your Brand Truths and Values

Utilize Strengths of Different Platforms


The IBC Method To Finding Inspiration

Insight: What is the unique human insight for your brand?

Benefit: What is the main benefit of your brand?

Concept: Combine your insight and benefit for a breakthrough idea!


Capture your audience's attention with the ‘chocolate covered broccoli’ 🔑

Think about it...



BONUS Keys for Social Media

courtesy of Gavin McGarry, President - Jumpwire Media


“The Future of Social Media is Community” 🔑

*Make use of Facebook’s notes app. It’s the only part of Facebook scanned by Google - for SEO

*Not using a filter on an Instagram post garners less reach

*Uploading directly from Mobile (not iPad) is better for organic reach

*Square videos work best on Facebook and Instagram for organic reach

*Facebook now prioritizes rendered links meaning posting an image + link doesn’t work anymore

*Unbranded content actually gets more reach and engagement on Instagram than branded content

*Posting images to Facebook via Instagram provides a 23% increase in engagement


Thanks for reading and thanks to Canadian Music Week. Don't forget to also check out CMW2016 Recap.



Congrats to Jamstack for winning this year's Start-Up Launch Pad. Jamstack is the world's first attachable guitar amplifier. Here's a video of professional musicians using Jamstack. It's available for pre-order on the Jamstack website now for only $147.

CMW 2016 Recap for Artists, Musicians and Marketers.

Last year, as a student at Algonquin College’s Music Industry Arts program, I was fortunate enough to attend Canadian Music Week. I spent 3 days in a hotel full of like-minded artists, musicians and marketers and found myself immersed in all the knowledge around me. My mind raced with the wonderful ways in which all the different industries represented at the conference compliment each other.

This year, I was selected to be part of the Social Media team at Canadian Music Week. After the initial excitement set aside, I found myself reflecting on last year and everything I absorbed. Luckily, I also found my lost usb stick which had all the notes I took last year! This blog post will serve as a recap of things I found interesting and relatable to all artists, musicians and marketers alike.


Major Keys Alert! 🔑




Keys for Artists & Musicians

PANEL - 21st Century Schizoid Creators

Featuring: singer/songwriter, Blake Morgan, Featured Artists Coalition CEO Paul Pacifico, CD Baby CEO Tracy Maddux, Director of Performer Affairs at Phonographic Performance Limited, Keith Harris.

  • Doing everything can be fruitful but only for a short period of time before it becomes self defeating

  • Find the balance between your business model and the business model of your partners’ (publishers, producers etc) (e.g Spotify)

  • Find your own sense of balance with social media: what and where you're comfortable sharing


PANEL - Songs Without Borders: Crafting Hits For Foreign Markets

Moderated by SOCAN A&R manager Rodney Murphy, featuring Rich Castillo of Universal Music Canada, songwriter and music publisher Vince Degiorgio of Cymba Music, and hit songwriter Stephen Kozmeniuk (“Koz”).


"They can sit on the song for a year but they will never sit on your friendship if you keep in touch" 🔑


  • Build and foster relationships - it can take years to actually work together but maintain the relationship!

  • Take your opportunities.

  • Diversify your portfolio.

  • Most songs on the radio are actually songs that were created 1-2 years ago - it takes a while to get to the radio - don't always write against what's on the radio. Think ahead

  • The finished product is more important than the music bed.


Building a Music City.

- Lesa Ukman, Founder at Lesa Ukman Partnerships

This is also applicable to artists and labels too!

  • Work with promotional partners

  • Create a business council

  • Leverage borrowed assets to create value for your cash sponsors. e.g street banners, meet and greets from musicians

  • Aggregate club owner purchasing

  • Build your community

  • Exploit digital, social and mobile assets - include sponsors and community content in your content rotation

  • Enlist celebrity ambassadors and music influencers to be your spokesperson

  • Become a publisher; think mobile video e.g Redbull and Redbull marketing (profit maker)

  •  "content is the new black" 🔑

  • Sell solutions - be strategic

  • Put purpose in front e.g creating a music city isn’t a cause but uplifting youth by creating a music city is a cause - measure the social capital created by purpose


BONUS Keys for Artist & Musicians at the end of the blog! 👇



Keys for Marketers

The Top 5 Ways to Influence, Engage and Market to Millennials

- Shama Hyder, CEO at Marketing Zen


"What does doing business with us allow our customers to say about their personal brand". 🔑

  1. Build an Identity-based ecosystem: the primary reason people use social media is to showcase their own identity.

  2. Make ETC your mantra

    1. Educate,

    2. Transparency

    3. Choices

  3. Recognize the diversity

  4. Think multi-channel

  5. Leverage other millennials

Making The Most of your Traffic

- Melanie Dunn, CEO at Cossette Canada


We as marketers, business people and owners put all this awesome hard work into our Digital Marketing Efforts. So What?

Here is how to make the most of your traffic:

  1. Re-think Your Funnel - Traffic Comes from Everywhere!

  2. Find Your Site’s Weaknesses - and ways to strengthen them

  3. Pay Attention To What’s Going On - Keep Track of Metrics and Have a testing Roadmap


“Content is King, Data is Queen” 🔑


8 Steps to Win At Search, Social and Content Marketing

- Quinn Whissen, Director of Marketing at Vertical Measures

  1. Strategize: why, who, where, when, what’s your voice; content formats, resources, success measurement

  2. Ideation:

    1. What are people searching for?

    2. What kind of questions do you get asked?

    3. Is there a content gap?

    4. Create an editorial calendar - click here to download the Vertical Measures Template

    5. “Watch Moneyball” - Quinn 🔑

  3. Content Creation

  4. Optimization

    1. Links pointing to your content (Internal too)

    2. Titles and tide tags (viewed in results)

    3. Description meta tag (viewed in results)

    4. Image alt text tags

    5. HI Tag (headline tag — only one!)

    6. Page load times

    7. Freshness of content

    8. Mobile!

  5. Content Promotion

    1. Make sharing simple

  6. Distribution

  7. Lead Nurturing

  8. Measurement

    1. Measure for successes and failures

    2. Check KPIs that matter to you

    3. Results may not be immediate

    4. “What gets measured gets done” - Tim Allen 🔑

Bonus: download the slidedeck


Bonus: More KEYS For Artists and Musicians

  • Develop your own database - social media platforms come and go. *cough* Myspace/Vine/Snapchat? *cough*

  • Create an online space - Have your own website.

  • At the beginning of your career, collecting data is more important than revenue.

  • Sell an experience! 🔑


"Active music making changes the way the brain perceives things" 🔑



Forward thinking companies that got my attention!


Notetracks: a collaborative platform to review, record and share your music ideas.

Searching for Donda

They say behind every great man lies an even greater woman. Tupac & Afeni, Biggie & Voletta, Jay Z & Gloria, Kanye & Donda. These are some of my favourite creative minds who changed the world not only through music but also through their voice and actions. Tupac and Biggie (rest in peace) put hip-hop and urban culture as a whole on the map. Jay Z carried the torch for 2+ decades and now sits atop the tide. Kanye West constantly tries to push music and the creative industries beyond their boundaries.

On August 30th 2005, Kanye West released “Hey Mama”, song no. 16 on what was his second studio album, titled ‘Late Registration.’ Although the song, produced by West and composer Jon Brion was released in 2005, it was reportedly initially composed in 2000 and is a ballad dedicated to West’s mother, Donda West, detailing his love, affection and appreciation for the way she raised him. In November 2007, Donda West unfortunately passed away due to complications from cosmetic surgery and what had initially been a celebratory song would end up becoming a tribute song.  

The life and teachings of Donda West not only inspired Kanye West to write a song about her but also inspired him to form DONDA. DONDA, according to West will span over 20 divisions with operations ranging from medical research on HIV and cancer to transportation, artist management and even match-making. In narrowing down exactly what the company will be, Kanye West tweeted that “DONDA is a design company which will galvanize amazing thinkers and put them in a creative space to bounce their dreams and ideas.” 

Although DONDA hasn’t quite achieved the feat it set out to, it’s been behind some of the most innovative works of art to date. DONDA has been credited for the marketing rollout for Kanye West’s Yeezus artwork. It’s also been behind a number of album and singles artwork for artists like Nicki Minaj, A$AP Rocky, Pusha T, Lil Wayne, and Big Sean among others. 


DONDA was behind the premiere of West’s ‘New Slaves’ video which was projected publicly on walls in 66 locations worldwide. West also debuted a seven-screen film called ‘Cruel Summer’ which featured multiple screens providing an immersive audio and video experience. 


While the rest of the world has been hesitant to fall behind West’s new business initiative, the hip-hop community has embraced him like they always have, supporting his every move as he continues to take the genre to new heights. DONDA is more than hip-hop though as evidenced by Kanye West’s ‘categories of influence organizational chart’ shown above. Even more evidence lies in West’s publicly asking Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg to “invest $1 billion in Kanye West ideas.” West would make this public plea on Twitter which left many scratching their heads as Twitter is a direct competitor of Zuckerberg’s Facebook.

Even after such innovative achievements, DONDA remains largely a mystery. The company sports no website or official social media account. Apart from West and his long-time friend and collaborator, Virgil Abloh who has been publicly named DONDA’s creative director, no one else has been officially attached to the company. Designers Joe Perez and Bryan Rivera have gotten the primary credits on many of DONDA’s works but none of them have officially been given a title at the company. Other notable credits in DONDA projects include film director Steve McQueen, painter George Condo who painted the art for Kanye's MBDTF album, and artist Takashi Murakami who designed the art for Kanye's Graduation album. So far, DONDA seems to be a collective of like-minded creatives who all have their own individual things going for them but collaborate every now and then on major campaigns – mostly under the direction of Kanye and Virgil.

DONDA has largely remained behind the scene, instead choosing to let its work do all the talking. It continues to push creative boundaries in multiple disciplines and the more the world continues to ask questions, the more Mr. West and his team will feel the pressure to introduce the world to the faces behind the scenes. This is further emphasized by DONDA’s recent partnership with Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter’s management company, Roc Nation who will now be managing DONDA's musical endeavours. Both artists have a long history of successful collaborations both in music and outside of it. Their collaborative effort, ‘Watch The Throne,’ whose marketing rollout was fully designed by DONDA was a creative and commercial success and Tidal of which both artists are co-owners has continued to hop over obstacles, securing its place in the ‘Big 3’ of streaming services.

When Kanye West was first introduced to the Hip-Hop community, he was seen largely as a producer and was never taken seriously as a rapper. It was Jay Z who signed him to his first record deal, with Rocafella Records and set West on the path that is. He is no doubt one of the best artists of our generation . The song ‘Hey Mama’ would not have happened without the support of the man West calls his big brother. I personally look forward to this partnership and Jay Z helping Kanye West bring his visions to the limelight again. As a self-titled digital storyteller with a background in music production, I believe Mr. West is breaking down a lot of barriers for not only myself but my generation of musicians/creatives/entrepreneurs which will in turn allow us to break down more barriers for the next generation. Hey Mama.